Fundraising Countdown

The support and fundraising that has happened on my behalf has touched my heart and has made alternative cancer treatment a possibility for me. Donations continue to be my primary funding for healthy food, supplements, living expenses and medical bills. If you feel moved to give to my Health and Wellness Fund, please follow the Paypal "Donate" button below. To avoid Paypal's 3% fee, checks or cash can be sent to Zachariah Walker, 1003 Chipeta Ave, Grand Junction, CO 81501. Blessings!

*CRITICAL ANGELES HOSPITAL VISIT: CURRENT ESTIMATED COST = $25,000. AHHH! PLUS UNEXPECTED CRISIS CONTROL AND 4 DAYS IN ICU*

Donate to Zachariah's Health & Wellness Fund

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Free Press Article: Part 2

This is the second in a series of articles by my friend and naturopathic doctor, Dr. Christopher Lespisto on my cancer experience and our journey navigating it with a holistic approach:

An unfolding journey with cancer: Part II

Editor's note: The following story is told with the consent of the patient and family, and is consistent with HIPAA regulations. Part I published April 13 in the Free Press.

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Two weeks ago, I began describing the new journey of my best friend, Zachariah Walker, in his process of dealing with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). We are revealing his story in the event that readers will gain valuable perspective on managing a new diagnosis of cancer.

Zachariah was diagnosed as being in “blast crisis” in his bone marrow 3 1/2 weeks ago, requiring immediate and strong intervention. He completed his first chemotherapy course (known as induction) two weeks ago, remarkably complaining only of nausea and fatigue during his hospital stay. His treatment course has been very unusual in that he was successfully able to integrate conventional, naturopathic, and other holistic medicines while in the hospital here in Grand Junction, fully disclosing all his supplements, herbs and treatments to the attending physicians.

This week he began to lose his hair due to the chemotherapy, and thanks to a skilled hair stylist, now looks somewhere between Zen monk and Vin Diesel. He also has been plagued by his long-standing issue of digestive problems, bringing up the importance of getting treatments that are specific to him, not just a protocol designed for patients with AML. In other words, a patient-centered approach is critical for his recovery. Because he does not have a large intestine and has a stoma (literally “mouth”) that projects the end of his small intestine through the side of his abdomen, he is particularly sensitive to the effects of the chemotherapy, which tends to irritate the end of everyone's digestive tracts that are receiving these treatments.

In a general sense, it is important that the cause of cancer is investigated, rather than just treating symptoms. It was Hippocrates, the father of Western Medicine, who first highlighted this important principle when he said, “It is much more important to know what sort of person has a disease, than what sort of disease a person has.” If the cause of the cancer cannot be immediately identified, then the question, “What is the cause?” must continue to be asked.

The cause of cancer is often not well understood. In Zachariah's case, he did not match many of the most commonly-known causes of cancers, such as pesticide, heavy metal or other chemical exposure. He is only 36, a yoga instructor, and has an incredibly positive outlook, even now. He eats a predominantly organic, nutrient-rich diet with limited processed or junk food. However, his father was exposed to the defoliant Agent Orange in the Vietnam War, which has been linked to cancers and could have possibly affected the DNA inherited from his father. Another curious connection is the growing link between Crohn's disease and AML.

Since Crohn's disease is a digestive auto-immune disorder (the body mistakenly attacks itself), perhaps his immune system was susceptible in a way that others are not. His white blood cell count was already down, and he did have a severe viral infection after returning from a cruise ship in January of this year. Unless cruise line food is that bad, the fact that he was affected so strongly is probably more due to his vulnerable state, which may have allowed the leukemia to progress.

This is a lot of conjecture, but sometimes the cause of cancer is not at all understood when it is appropriate to begin treatment, especially in the crisis that Zachariah had. Is this overall treatment working? That will be revealed shortly when he gets other tests back. For now, we have adjusted his plan to support his recovery at home after chemotherapy. We are adding several super-nutritive herbs and vitamins and have added special external treatments in order to soothe his irritated belly. He is continuing to eat nutrient-rich meats, broths and foods to balance his anemia, which often leaves him feeling light-headed and tired.

One of the common treatments after receiving his particular type of chemotherapy is to get stem cell transplantation, which replaces his ravaged bone marrow and might put both leukemia and Crohn's disease into remission, meaning that there is no evidence of cancer in the body. This is the ultimate plan, since a long-term cure cannot be predicted.

He can get the stem cell treatments in the US, but another option is to travel to a modern Mexican hospital, where he would be able to receive unique therapies for his white blood cells such as NK (natural killer) cell therapy. This is less invasive than stem cell transplantation and evidence suggests it will produce similar results.

So how is Zachariah handling this process? How well does anyone handle a cancer diagnosis? It is obviously stressful, emotionally traumatic and difficult for him, his friends and family. Yet some people have described cancer as being the best thing that has happened to them, calling it a “wake-up call” and the impetus to make changes that they have been wanting to make, but have never taken on. As for Zachariah, he has good days and bad days, and he continues to show up with grace and courage, facing each decision as it needs to be made.

Since it is likely that none of the alternative treatments Zachariah chooses will be covered by his insurance, he is expecting significant medical costs, magnified by the ongoing treatment needed to prevent the leukemia from recurring. If you would like to donate to Zachariah's health and wellness fund, please visit around-z-world.blogspot.com.

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Dr. Christopher Lepisto graduated as a naturopathic doctor (ND) from Bastyr University in Seattle, Wash. He is a native of Grand Junction and opened his practice here in 2004. Previously, Lepisto lived and worked in New Zealand, where he developed a special interest in indigenous herbal medicines. Lepisto practices downtown near Fourth and Main. For more information, visit www.grandjunctionnaturopath.com or call 970-250-4104. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Things Happen Fast

From Facebook Post: 2:30am Saturday
It's amazing how fast things happen in this crazy experience of Acute Leukemia. So fast, so much to write and reflect on, and no time to do it because the next thing is happening and new decisions are needing to be made. Since I know many are interested and in the dark I wanted to get a quick update out here at quarter to two in the morn...

I had been a home recovering from my Induction round of chemotherapy, last Wednesday was 2 weeks post chemo. On Tues I went to the oncology clinic for blood and follow-ups. I posted a 101 degree temp, which to my knowing and dismay, set the red lights flashing. Due to my immune-compromised state a fever can indicate infection, which would be life threatening in my case. I was immediately run through a gamut of tests and checked back into the hospital that night for I.V. antibiotics and other preventative measures.

Meanwhile, I received the results from my bone marrow biopsy from the previous Friday. We were hoping for cancer blasts to show less than 5%, zero of course ideal. The blasts were at 11%, way down from my original crisis result at 44%, but uncertain as to what direction they were going. Wednesday morning, I was drugged up for another drillin' into my hip's bone marrow and those results came back Thursday evening showing a 19% blast rate. Translation: back in a crisis situation... This is not an atypical result following an Induction such as mine, but certainly not what we were hoping for.

So, today has been another somewhat mad day of making things happen in order to make decisions. We had a consult with the Functional Oncology specialist at Angeles Medical Center in Mexico to see how soon we can get there for treatment. We are currently waiting for a response once he is able to consult with his team. Meanwhile, the doctors here are waiting on my word to pull the trigger on another round of chemotherapy.

I hope to write a blog about my desires and decision around wanting to seek treatment outside of the US. Bottom line is they offer various cancer treatment that have been scientifically proven to work and have been used successfully outside of the US for 50 years. Much of the research and practices have come out of Germany. With quality of life post cancer my primary goal, and with my pre-existing health compromises, multiple rounds of chemo as my only treatment option is not promising. Not to mention, as my oncologist mentioned yesterday, if my Leukemia is chemo-resistant I am basically SOL, end of story.

So, there it is. Certainly not great news, but I remain optimistic and motivated to be self-advocating and proactive. I've attached the link to the Functional Oncology page that describes many of the approaches used at Angeles Medical Center for those interested. As an example, the 1st thing Dr. Perez addresses in our discussions is the importance of nutrition and the body's ability to heal itself throughout the entire process. Here, microwaved canned soup and SYSCO bacon and eggs are fine, but I can't have hot peppermint or green tea.

There is much more to this story, and my care here has been phenomenal. Just a limited and narrow philosophy and approach... Visualizing a quick, safe, and successful voyage to San Diego where I will be picked up and driven straight to the hospital for an integrative healing experience. Or, option 2, a successful 2nd round of chemo here before making that quick, safe, and successful voyage to Angeles Hospital.

Love and Light, Z

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The New Look

It's Saturday evening and I've enjoyed the best day in quite a while.  Wed and Thursday I was feeling pretty rocked, especially with chemo in the guts.  Still managing to eat well and digest, so that's a plus!  Felt decent Fri morning in time for a bone marrow biopsy followed by a unit download of platelets.  Whooo-eeee, was I hammered Friday afternoon with all the drug combos I was dosed up with.  Mom tried to get me up for dinner, felt like I was truly waking up from Corpse Pose.  Seriously, it took me about 15 minutes to get on my feet.  Woke today with new life and a fair scattering of hairs in my pillow and bed.  It motivated action.  Results of the day's adventure can be seen below!
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

50-50

What’s it like being told you’ve got a 50-50 chance of survival? Is that an arbitrary number they pick that people can relate to. Heads you die, tails you live. Waddya think? Shall we start some chemo?! I’d like to take my case to Vegas, let some real odds makers create the spread. For sake of choice vernacular this particular handicapper grew up on a beach in California: “So, dude, you look healthy, your skin tone is good. You stay very active, sounds like you tear up the singletrack! Low stress living, healthy spiritual practice, you don’t drink or imbibe in other destructive behavior (sounds boring). Positive outlook on life, healthy sex drive (yeah, tiger!), laughter in your life, good friends. Plus, you’ve been around the block a few times. Dude, yer rockin’ it! Odds are good, let me punch in a few more numbers... Wait, wait, what’s this about your health history? I totally overlooked it because of you bodacious-ness. Give me some details.”

“Well, bro, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at age two which led to an entire colectomy at age 14. (“Whao, a what?”) I had my entire large intestine removed, and at the same time they removed my spleen, which was enlarged and filtering red blood cells at a mad rate, because of Congenital Spherocytosis. Kinda an afterthought really. (“Knarly, bro!”) All was good til I was 22 and had J-pouch surgery to “improve” my lifestyle. That led to four and a half years of chronic infection, miserable symptoms, and living off of some hard-core antibiotics. Had that shit removed in a complicated surgery that left me with nerve damage, a year-long recovery, and it totally ruined my last semester of college. (“¿Por quĂ©?”) Well, I was headed to Costa Rica to student teach outdoor education, learn Spanish, swing with the monkeys, and catch some prime surf. But, that’s really more a story of heartbreak. Let me finish your survey cuz I’m dying to know my odds and I’ve got $20 burning a hole in my pocket…

“So, at that point I had started developing a history of bowel obstructions that would sometimes land me in the E.R. Let me tell you, puking up your own bile is something it’s hard to acquire a taste for. (“Dude! T.M.I.”) Sorry, getting caught up in memories. Anyway, in ’05 I had a doozie that landed me in the hospital for a major surgery. Post-op, my digestive system went on strike, apparently not happy with contract terms, I lost 35 pounds and pulled off my best Skeletor[1] impersonation ever. At some point during those four weeks they removed my Gall Bladder for some good measure, I think they got tired of scratching their heads. Anyhoo, I remember staring off at those September skies wishing the clouds would drop low enough to carry me away. They didn’t and I eventually crawled out in time for my 30th birthday with the determination to make my 30’s the best decade of life. At least until I reached 40. So, I rocked it. Even with a new diagnosis of Chron’s disease (Ulcerative Colitis’ bigger meaner brother) in 2010 I was feeling on my game, so I just continued to improve my diet and be healthy. Until now, shit’s just blown up in 2012. I thought I might start getting tuned in to some intergalactic communications with Zeta Reticuli, but this? This Chron’s flare-up and Leukemia bullshit are a real buzzkill.”

“No doubt bro, that story is totally gnar gnar. Man, you put Doug Flutie to shame! But, I hate to say it, it took you two entire paragraphs of cliff notes to spout out what you got going against you in this latest epic, I mean it’s epic, dude. I had given you a 13-point spread before, but this could totally put you in underdog status. Without that spleen your liver’s gotta do all the dirtywork through the chemo. That poor dude’s likely been working overtime for years. That chemo shit also tears up your gastro track and yours has already been beat like a rented mule. Not to mention the whole auto-immune complications and the drug therapies for Chron’s, they just don’t mix. Shit! My odds-making automator is starting to smoke! Ahhhh damn, it’s fried, I don’t know what to tell you man. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, how about 50-50? (“ARGGGH!”) Wait, wait, I’ve got a good feeling about you though. I see you channeling Big Papi of the 2004 ACLS. It’s game four, you’re facing elimination. Let that lead off homer in the 12th inning spark something special[2]. The odds are just numbers anyway…”

Yes, the odds are just numbers anyway. We humans certainly like numbers and how they give our minds some sense of security in the definitive. If even Vegas can’t dole out better odds than 50-50, I’m putting my shiny silver coin away. Or better yet, I’m going to toss it in a fountain surrounded by playful children. I’d rather invest in divinity that “difinity”.[3]


[3] If you went to every link in this blog click here and read the red print! The only thing worse would be waking at 4 in the morning to write a ridiculous blog with lots of ridiculous links. The sun is coming up now, I’m going back to bed!


Free Press Article: An Unfolding Journey with Cancer

I wanted to post the first in a series of four articles that Dr. Christopher Lepisto is writing about my specific cancer case and the holistic approach we are bringing to it:


LEPISTO: An unfolding journey with cancer

Editor's note: Dr. Lepisto presents the first in a series of very personal columns on cancer. The following story is revealed with the consent of the patient and family, and is consistent with HIPAA regulations.

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On March 28, my best friend, Zachariah Walker, was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), a potentially serious and immediately life-threatening cancer. This diagnosis was a shock for everyone involved, although a known possibility as he had just had a bone marrow biopsy the week before, with the intention to rule out leukemia. Those results came back positive, and have started what has been a wild ride over the last two-plus weeks.

A patient with a new cancer diagnosis is bombarded by an incredible amount of information, both from their doctors and from any research they may undertake on their own. From a conventional medicine perspective, it is apparent people are often only given two choices. First, do chemotherapy, drugs, surgery and/or radiation with all of the known risks and side effects, or two, do nothing.

In my friend's case, all of the involved specialists were strongly recommending chemotherapy, and with great urgency. My initial impression was that he needed more options.

Not initially trusting the recommendation for chemotherapy, I proceeded to research and investigate any evidence-based complementary medicine that demonstrated efficacy to put AML into remission. By evidence-based, I am referring to therapies that pass a solid science and research-based litmus test. A cure is unknown at this point, in the same way that anyone with cancer does not know if cancer will recur until the moment of diagnosis.

I found clinics and hospitals in the U.S., Switzerland, Germany and Mexico that had promising experience in treating AML, with particularly compelling facilities in Germany and Mexico. One of the most appealing reasons to look outside the U.S. is that many long-standing therapies for cancer are not available here due to FDA (Food and Drug Administration) restriction.

One example is a therapy called Systemic Ozonated Hyperthermia, of which the hyperthermia aspect has a 50-year history in Germany. In addition, Zachariah has HMO-based insurance, which means that most, perhaps all of the alternative therapies that he chooses, must be paid out of pocket.

The choice of where he will receive care is complicated by his already compromised immune system, which quickly ruled out European facilities due to the extended flights in tight quarters, with any number of sick or ill people. Mexico looks particularly appealing as a hospital facility having an integrative oncology wing. This means that he would be able to receive chemotherapy along with the complementary therapies, both of which will cost 60-75% less than identical therapies in the U.S. For these reasons, Mexico is looking like a better-and-better choice. Last week, I set up a phone consult with an internist there, the chief M.D. of integrative oncology.

The physician there consulted with us for 1.5 hours, and we essentially learned that to date, there are no evidence-based complementary therapies that will put AML into remission. This matched my research. I then sent him all the current lab information and medical history so that we could get input on the most immediately pressing question, “Should we start chemotherapy here?” The answer came back the same from both this internist and a naturopathic oncologist classmate that I consulted with, that Zachariah was in what is called a “blast crisis,” and that chemotherapy should be started immediately.

This is not the news that I, Zachariah, his family or many others wanted to hear, but nonetheless he has, as of this writing, successfully navigated six-plus days of chemotherapy. The family has handled this remarkably well, probably because Zachariah has handled this so remarkably well. He has found a way to do yoga outside, has put positive affirmations on his chemotherapy bag like “Liquid Sunshine” and “I Love You,” and has an incredibly positive outlook.

“This is doable,” his mother said. He is doing so well, in fact, that he may go home immediately following the chemotherapy, which is atypical. Many people are monitored in hospital isolation for one week after chemotherapy, before being discharged.

Zachariah has succeeded in getting all of his supplements approved, with full disclosure, to the attending physicians at the hospital. This means he is able to get his fish oil, whey protein, concentrated berry syrup, digestive enzymes, herbs and organic food that his friends and I have brought into the hospital for him. He is also getting weekly B-12 injections there in the hospital, and conventional interventions like blood transfusions and medications to suppress the chemo side effects. (PLEASE NOTE: This treatment plan is uniquely designed for Zachariah. In no way should you assume this is appropriate for you or any family member with cancer. We will be adapting this plan as soon as he is released from the hospital.)

His naturopathic treatments are designed to put his cancer into remission, reduce inflammation, prevent mouth sores, diarrhea and hair loss (all usual toxic effects from the chemotherapy), while keeping his muscle mass, nutrient absorption and energy during this extremely taxing process. So far, he has only complained of nausea and fatigue in the afternoons for a few hours at a time, to the surprise of one of his physicians.

Since it is likely that none of the alternative treatments Zachariah chooses will be covered by his insurance, he is expecting significant medical costs, magnified by the ongoing treatment needed to prevent the leukemia from recurring. If you would like to donate to Zachariah's health and wellness fund, visit around-z-world.blogspot.com. There will also be several fundraising events for him in Grand Junction and details can be found on the site.

One of the most stirring and beautiful results of Zachariah's journey is that many people are being inspired by his resilience and courage. For my part, I have felt recharged and renewed in my practice. I am sharing Zachariah's unfolding story with you so that patients and family of people with cancer can realize that there are resources available to them that include conventional, naturopathic and other complementary medicines. An integrative treatment approach is possible!

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Dr. Christopher Lepisto graduated as a naturopathic doctor (ND) from Bastyr University in Seattle, Wash. He is a native of Grand Junction and opened his practice here in 2004. Previously, Lepisto lived and worked in New Zealand, where he developed a special interest in indigenous herbal medicines. Lepisto practices downtown near Fourth and Main. For more information, visit www.grandjunctionnaturopath.com or call 970-250-4104.
FUNDRAISER
A benefit for Zachariah Walker is planned from 5-10 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, at No Coast Sushi, 1119 N. First St. No Coast will donate 20% of all proceeds to Walker's cancer medical fund.


Thank you my brother and great friend. You are truly an angel by my side.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Quick Saturday check-in

From Saturday afternoon Facebook post:

Rough day on the home front. I seem to be making it for a good part of the night with quality sleep, only to wake up around 5a with intestinal symptoms. After food and movement it seems to settle into decent afternoons of feeling energetic and positive. By morning, hurting again. Today has persisted a bit, far less an enjoyable day than yesterday. Talked to the oncology doctor on call, had some blood drawn, and am heading in for a platelet download soon. Amazing how each day can be so different and how things can change from hour to hour. So goes the journey.

Acquired a massage table today, thanks Janelle, that will be a permanent fixture in the house. Looking forward to having visitors soon, there are a number of us willing to receive body work! Amazing how an experience like this takes a toll on everyone involved. Big gratitude to John Adams for realigning the family this morning!

So... as they say, two steps forward, one step back. Help me visualize healthy intestines and good digestion. The chemo and toxins will be out of the body soon. Sunnier days in the forecast, and in the meantime, enjoying my comfortable bed. And, continued appreciation for the love and support from all of you.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday, late morning...

It is Friday, late morning, and I am settling back into home living. No beeping machines, no shuffling feet, no pokes, prods, pumps, chemicals and plastics. Welcome blooming lilacs, leaving trees and energetic singing winged ones. New sheets and pillows and deep dreams and peaceful rest. By morning the bubblings of chemotherapy rose in my chest and my intestines moaned, tweaked and ached, Tums and applesauce to the rescue. A lounging morning with my good mother and I have made it to here. I'm about to take the trim to the beard that has marked my time behind walls and reawaken under warm running water. And that is my plan. Once it's complete, whether it take 3o minutes or 3 hours, then we will see what is next. That's how it will be for awhile...
Here's yesterday's Facebook post which I thought was appropriate to follow-up my enthusiastic video the night before release. How symptoms can change in a matter of hours. Part of this whole process and the ridiculous roller-coaster ride that it is.
Posted 4/12, 12:30p
Here's an artistic interpretation of how I feel today. After an enthusiastic evening in anticipation of my release from the hospital I had a rough night feeling the effects of chemo in my digestive system. The complication of Chron's disease in this scenario weighs a bit in my mind, however I'm in agreement with my doc that I'm likely experiencing mucosa sluff-off and other chemo symptoms. Feeling a set-back, and I know set-backs are part of any healing experience. Still happy to say I'll be sleeping in my own bed tonight after one more pint of blood before I am released.



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Going Home

I woke to day 6 of chemotherapy feeling the toxic effects throughout my body. I could feel achey kidneys, an overworked liver, my heart working overtime, and my digestive system getting grilled from the inside out. It was the worst morning I'd experienced, yet after some food and outside time things settled. It certainly was a dazed kinda day, however, no nausea or vomiting, no mouth sores or any other significant effects from the chemo. This morning I woke to day 7, the final day of this Induction, relieved to feel better than the day before. Yes, my guts still feel a bit torched, but my overall appearance and energy has been amazing. Nurses and doctors continually grill me and explore me for what things are wrong, I can only say that I feel remarkably well and my appetite is great... And, tonight it has hit me to some more significant degree. That is, the AWE of where I am right now in some momentary and subtle glimmer of clarity. I wanted to get my face on this Blog once more here before I'm again walking the streets. I wanted those of you who are following and sending your support to see just how well it has worked. I am humble and in awe... and going home!
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Dracula Time

Monday is starting with a fresh bag-o-blood for me here from my home in the oncology ward. I've never had a transfusion before, so it's kind of tripping me out. Looking up at someone else's blood hanging from my R-2 unit, dripping down through the pump into my heart. My platelets counts are low, and expected outcome from the chemo, so this looks to be pretty standard procedure. They've been talking about the possibility for the past few days here. So, add it to the list of science experiments that I've undergone over the years. New blood! Perhaps I'll again be bouncing off the walls with new energy before too long.

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Interviews with the Good Doctor!

I'm wrapping up Day 4 of chemo and it's been an energy filled beautiful Easter Sunday. As I've posted on Facebook, it's felt like a Resurrection kind of day. My good brother Christopher Lespisto, ND and I wanted to update the Blog with some talk on the process of turning unknowns into choices and the holistic approach we are incorporating into my care, both now and in the future. Plus, we just had a good laugh and ya'll can see how upbeat things are. Enjoy!

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Full Moon Dreams

Alright, my computer is so bogged down I'm piecing together today's video entry. The vids say enough, but I did want to say it felt good to dream last night. It was the first night I remember any dreams since I've been in the hospital. Interesting too that Larkin shared the same thing, first time she's had dreams since I've been in here. Perhaps it was the shift of the moon from waxing to waning after it's full beautiful expression last night.
I am contained to the 4th floor because of my chemo drip. There is no outside access what so ever so I'm contained behind windows and walls. However, when they change my chemo bag every 24 hours I get a half hour of freedom. I immediately bounce to the nearest exit to breath in fresh air and feel the elements course through my body. I stand with bare feet to the Earth and ground, ground on down. Last night I returned to my room and asked for another 30 minutes of freedom while my pre-meds (for the Idarubicin push) flushed into my body. Knowing the full moon must be near I headed to the 8th floor and it's big windows overlooking the city. Just as I settled into the eastern view a tiny crest of moon appeared over the Grand Mesa. I sat and watched, thrilled to see the Full Grandmother Moon, with her divine timing, shine her smiling face down on me.
And then to dreaming... I know I had so many people visit last night. I remember some crazy shenanigans with all my Missoula boys, we were adults but in the middle of some absurd high school adventure. Like the old days, getting in trouble without actually getting in too much trouble... And brother Michael, thanks for the drive up the Bitterroot Valley in the back of your convertible. I know you don't actually have a convertible, but in my dream you did. The sun was shining, the music was high, and we were cruisin' in style under the beautiful Big Sky.

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Watchin' the Day Wake

A short video clip the morning after starting chemotherapy. How long's it been since you just sat watching the day wake? Too long for me. Crazy how sometimes it takes the worst things to remind you of what you really need in your day to day. This morning's been beautiful, watching the darkness lift and the sun paint the eastern sky. I listened to remakes of Bob Dylan tunes hearing the music differently than I have in a while. It was a somehow perfect blend of letting my feet tap and my tears flow... The traffic bustles below my view at the intersection of 7th and Patterson. In fact, I'd normally be one of those commuters on a Thursday morning on my way to yoga classes at Crossroads. Today I will watch, I will wait. Day one of seven of continuous chemo is underway. May the sunlight and fresh air penetrate these walls.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Clarity & Purpose

It’s long past time for bed but restlessness has me bouncing around beneath these tired eyes. The energy I’ve felt running through my body today has been remarkable. I bounced around my room like a caged tiger and yearned for my mountain bike and a run up Pete-E-Kes. How, I imagined, could I feel this way with an apparent life-threatening crisis going on inside my body? That thought also reflecting my CBC from the day, showing the highest white blood cell count I’ve seen since the first blood test scare in mid-Feb. Is there a miracle happening? Is the flood of love and positive energy that I can tangible feel coming my way shifting things? Of course it is. To what degree we will see.

Today marked the first true day of clarity for me. Since last Wed, and my check-in at the ER for severe Chron’s symptoms and a transfer to the oncology ward at St. Mary’s hospital, life has been a crash course in mobilization. In a flood of overwhelming information my closest friend (and Naturopathic doctor) Christopher cleared his reality to be my advocate and my parents seemed to immediately transport from Montana to my bedside. Treatment options as far reaching as a journey to Germany crossed the realm of possibilities and each 24 hours something new was on the table. And we’ve come to this moment, though the occasional spring wind creates its stirring, the dust has settled. There is a sense of peace in stilling the mobilization, but with it I can feel the building energy of a looming storm cloud.

Chemotherapy is scheduled to start (since it has now drifted past midnight) later on this 4th day of April. I realize there is no way to know what that means until it is happening. The next week of Induction and the week following are the hardest I’ve been told, I guess that’s just a known fact. I already can feel the blur it will be… I also know there is reason behind this whole experience, of course there must be, or what is the point, right? My most amazing (for serious lack of fair description) girlfriend shared tonight an article from the New York Times that is an excerpt from the book “Dancing at the Edge of Life,” a memoir from a cancer survivor. In it a passage struck me, a reflection of words I’ve shared with people over the past years regarding my beliefs around the human condition, finalized with a reason. A reason to be here now, experiencing what I am…

“…I have been attuning so closely to the Earth that I may be manifesting in my own body what is in hers. Humanity living out of balance with nature is her cancer, a fast-growing malignancy, life-threatening yet curable. It fits. It is one answer to the question “Why me?” Perhaps I have tuned in so deeply, so wholly, that I’ve become as sick as the planet. And in the process of healing myself, I will help heal the world.”

I Feel It!

Thank you Todd!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Blessings!

I took this video this morning but got wrapped up in a big day of info and decision making. I'll get to updating the process, but in the meantime wanted to thank you all for your love.

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April Fools

This is a test run for putting up video on my blog. Unfortunately it got cut short... Just wanted to get my healthy face up and out.


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Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Latest Journey

This is the same update I posted on my Facebook page. Wanted to get my blog up and running, there will be more to come...

Life is a crazy trip for sure and I'm overdue for an update with what is going on in my world. A month and a half ago I asked for support after some abnormal blood tests following a doctor visit. There was a lymphoma scare that passed after a CAT scan. However, the abnormal blood results haven't changed and much has been explored since mid Feb as to why...

This past Wed I went to the ER after a bowel obstruction scare due to Chron's disease. While that was being treated I got the new from last week's bone marrow biopsy, and yes, it's a scary word: Leukemia. I was transferred to St. Mary's Hospital and have been hospitalized there since. Naturally, there is a lot going on and lots of overwhelming details, but I am staying very centered in the midst of it all. I have so much phenomenal support and my parents arrived from MT today.

I know this is a heavy dose of information and there are and will be lots of questions and concerns. I am hoping to get an update page rolling soon for those that want more info. I will say that the type is AML and all of the sub-factors to that diagnosis look positive. The biggest complication is my active Chron's disease and compromised immune system. We are looking are various treatment options while moving forward as quickly as possible as this is an acute (rapid moving) situation.

With so many loved ones in my life I am overwhelmed with love, support and desires to help. There will be more details to come and I am asking people to be patient and send healing energy, light and love. Worry and fear are not necessary!

This is probably, by far, the worst and longest update I've ever written on FB. However, staying postive... The prayer flags are up in the room, speakers are tapped into the iPod, healing artwork up on the wall. My absolutely amazing and beautiful girlfriend and I danced in the the hospital room last night and I watched a spectacular sunrise this morning. I am blessed, so blessed, despite all the unbelievable and emotionally challenging events taking place. Thank you all for being the beautiful people you are. LOVE...